Showcasing the diverse lifestyles of various communities, the museum is worth visiting.
Out of 19 government museums in the state, the Udaipur division has four-situated in Ahar, City Palace, Dungarpur, and Chittorgarh. Udaipurites are lucky to have a special museum at the Anthropological Survey of India, Western Regional Center at Pratapnagar that was inaugurated in March 2018. The popularity of the museum was evident from the fact that it was visited by no less than 9000 persons in the very first year. The diverse ways of life followed by various communities such as Kotwalia, Naika, Varli, Rabari, Marwara, Meghwal, Rathwara, Tadwi, Bhil, Gameti, Ahir and Jat of Gujarat as portrayed in the museum, make it a special one.
As also communities such as Sahariya, Damor, Bhil, Brahman, Jain, Rajput, Bhangi, Bhopa, Jogi, Langa, Lohar, Mangniyar, Muslim, Kumar, Prajapat, and Suthar of Rajasthan. Lifestyles of groups are presented in the museum so as to highlight the different socio-economic milieus with the help of specimens, sketches, charts, maps and photographs. Specimens exhibited to help in the understanding of various cultural adaptation not only show their exotic appearance but also showcase the bio-cultural richness of the people of Western India.
In the form of charts and texts in the museum are shown languages and dialects that are an important factor for the identification of any community. As many as 325 languages and 25 scripts that have been derived from various linguistic families namely the Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burman, Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic, Andamans, Semitic, Indo-Iranian and Indo- European are in use in our country. More than 65.5% of 4635 communities studied by the Anthropological Survey of India are bilingual and most of the tribal communities are trilingual. The numerous mother tongues are important instruments of cultural expression and the manifestation of linguistic diversity among the Indian population.
Also known for their cultural diversity in adapting various ecosystems of the region are the people of Western India, Mewar, Marwar, Dhundhari, Shekhawati, and Hadoti that are the main eco-cultural zones of Rajasthan. And in the same way, Gujarat can be divided into North Gujarat, South Gujarat, Saurashtra, and Kutch. Each cultural zone has its own distinct ecology, landscape, dialect, cultural traits, beliefs, customs, and traditions. Reflected on their social life, economic activities and even their political organizations are these variations. The museum has presented a Panorama and activities of some of the coastal, desert dwellers, and nomadic communities who have retained age-old knowledge about local ecology and livelihood strategies. People adjust themselves to their environment in order to meet their requirements for food, water, and shelter. Essential for survival, adaptation is a continuing process.
The photography unit of the Regional Centre has a big collection of nearly 7000 negatives covering varied aspects of life and culture of the people of this region. These collections of photographs are valuable assets of visual records of the life and the distinctive cultural features of the Western region. The photography unit of the center has also undertaken documentation of Kolgha, Kotwalia, Kathodi, Sidda, and Padhar of Gujarat and Saharia of Rajasthan and collected about 1800 digital photographs.
Till date, the regional center has collected about 6000 ethnographic objects from different districts of Gujarat and Rajasthan from all communities including tribals. The specimens can be functionally classified as agriculture, hunting, fishing, etc. bows and arrows, ornaments, musical instruments, crafts objects, ritual objects, pre-historical material, and so on. The center arranges exhibitions on various themes at different locations such as Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jaipur during Shilpgram Utsav, and other occasions.
Under the collaborative programmes, an ethnographic gallery was set up at the campus of the Shilpgram in Udaipur in 2001 in collaboration with West Zone Cultural Centre. The Regional Centre has a rich reference library that has a vast collection of about 7000 books on various subjects, including many Indian and foreign journals.
Such museums in Udaipur are readily available rich sources to create awareness and enhance one’s interest in and knowledge of our ancient cultural heritage and a boon for curious students and researchers.